Sunil Tripathi, a 22-year-old Brown University student who has been missing since mid-March, was falsely identified as a possible suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing by Reddit.com, prompting a site moderator to issue an apology to his family this week.
"I'd like to extend the deepest apologies to the family of Sunil Tripathi for any part we may have had in relaying what has turned out to be faulty information," the moderator of the FindBostonBombers subreddit wrote in a statement, reported Britain's the Daily Mail
"We cannot begin to know what you're going through and for that we are truly sorry," the statement continued. "Several users, twitter users, and other sources had heard him identified as the suspect and believed it to be confirmed. We were mistaken."
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Erik Martin, the general manager of Reddit, issued a separate apology on Reddit's handling of the Boston Marathon bombing overall.
"Though [it] started with noble intentions, some of the activity on reddit fueled online witch hunts and dangerous speculation which spiraled into very negative consequences for innocent parties," wrote Martin. "The reddit staff and the millions of people on reddit around the world deeply regret that this happened."
In the formal apology, Martin mentions the site has already "apologized privately" to Tripathi's family.
Tripathi was one of several olive-complexioned males who appearing to be of Middle Eastern descent, where suspected by Reddit and other social media sites as having played a role in last Monday's attack, which left three dead and over 170 injured.
Tripathi is of Indian descent.
On the Facebook page "Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi," the family of the missing Brown University student reacted immediately to the false accusations.
"A tremendous and painful amount of attention has been cast on our beloved Sunil Tripathi in the past twelve hours," the statement read. "We have known unequivocally all along that neither individual suspected as responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings was Sunil."
In an interview with Mother Jones on Friday, Sunil's sister Sangeeta Tripathi also reacted to the controversy.
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"We find it incredibly unfortunate that media outlets were so quick to jump without checking with authorities," said Sangeeta. "But we hope they use the same energy and intensity they showed in the past 24 hours to really help us find Sunil."
Tripathi, who left his Providence, R.I. home on March 16 without his cell phone and wallet, is still missing.
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